Meet Claire, an everyday hero working as a Housing Locality Officer at Redditch Borough Council.
Below Claire has shared her story to show what a career as a Housing Locality Officer is like.
What's your role in a nutshell?
It’s my role to help our council housing tenants stay in their homes by offering support and help on everything from giving people new homes, to child protection and antisocial behaviour to benefits and council tax support, bin collection and housing repairs. I’m their point of contact with the council and can also signpost to other agencies too.
I’ve 1000 homes to look after; there are another five housing officers that also work for Redditch and each of us have a similar number of properties and tenants to look after.
Having a home makes a massive difference to someone’s whole life – to their mental and physical health and their ability to access services. I’m helping people keep their homes by supporting them with their issues and problems – it’s incredibility rewarding.
Was this a planned career or one you fell into?
Fell into - but now it’s definitely planned. When I left school I worked in call centres first with British Gas, then with Midland Heart, Birmingham’s Housing Association. There I got a rent and allocations officer job and they paid for me to do a housing course. I really wanted to work for a council so when a job at Redditch came up I applied and I’m still here 4 years on.
Are you a doer, manager or leader?
Definitely a doer, I’m out on my patch everyday. People know me. I get stopped in the street, I might be asked when the grass is going to be cut or to tell me it’s been cut to short! I do really appreciate the great team I have around me, and my manager is essential when things get tough - we get involved in all stages of life from new babies to death and everything in between.
What do you love best & love least about your job?
I love that I’m solving problems all day. I love helping people. Some people I’ll never forget; the 19 year old man with terminal cancer and his wife with a new baby. I managed to secure them a 2 bedroomed flat that was adapted to help make the final stages of his life more dignified and comfortable. They were a privilege to help. Since his death his wife has moved into a house and trained to be a nurse, she was really keen that their adapted flat was able to be used by someone else in need of those adjustments.
One of the hardest parts of the job is finding one of my tenants dead in their home. I’ve found 6 so far. You really never get used to that. That’s when the support from the wider team is so essential.
Do you need: Qualifications? University or apprenticeship or special skills?
You need to be a special person to be a housing officer with a genuine desire to help people and skills of compassion, empathy and problem solving. Being well organised is crucial; I’m always making lists so I remember what I need to get back to people about, and we have an IT tool to help us manage more complex case work too.
I did a Chartered Institute of Housing level 3 diploma specialising in housing which took 18 months. But actually while there are some courses available there is no one path to becoming a housing officer and experience and on the job learning is far more important.
Routine or variety?
Both. I have a routine of getting out on my patch everyday after doing my admin in the morning. The variety is that everyone’s issues I am asked to help with are different. The pandemic has definitely had a big impact on people, I’ve seen more antisocial behaviour, more loneliness and an impact on people’s mental health too – it’s been tough for people being at home all day. Pre Covid I’d set up a coffee morning in the community lounge; that’s all had to stop so I’ve been doing home visits from distance to people that I know need support instead.
Pay check or calling?
All three! I’m definitely in it to make a difference but actually the salary is competitive and there are so many other benefits of working for the council. I get a subsidised lease car, child care vouchers, there’s a cycle to work scheme too, low interest loans plus a decent pension. One of the benefits I most value is the flexible working hours – as a parent it’s piece of mind in case the kids get ill and means I can make it to the school plays, and my employer knows I’ll always make up the hours. It’s certainly not a 9 to 5 job.
Is there development support available or is it DIY?
I’ve had opportunities to keep up to date with courses on relevant topics such as domestic violence, safeguarding and data protection. I always feel like I’m learning on the job too.
Staying put or moving on?
Staying. I’ve worked hard to get my patch how it is today. It’s really my dream job.
Can you share a life lesson or specific career advice?
It’s not a job for the faint hearted. You come across all sorts of issues. Many require resilience, like dealing with child protection issues. But if you really want to do something where can make a real difference then housing is something to consider. You’ll need to be persistent and offer to help out and then you will be in a better position when a job comes up.
And finally, the best thing about working for the council is….being part of a great team, even when the challenges of the job are tough, they are there supporting you. The housing service is full of dedicated and passionate people, that’s quite something to be part of.
Claire, is an #EverydayHero, working to change and make better the lives of others and you can be an #EverydayHero too. Click here to find roles currently available within housing.
Click here to read about more of our #EverydayHeroes